The season is finally here for the Cowboys following the embarrassing and tumultuous end to 2008.
No T.O., no problem
Romo threw for 353 yards and three long touchdowns Sunday, helping the Cowboys begin the post-T.O. era with a 34-21 victory that ruined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' debut under coach Raheem Morris.
Miles Austin avoided two tacklers on the sideline to score on a 42-yard reception just before halftime and Roy Williams streaked through a mistake-prone secondary on a 66-yard TD play early in the third quarter.
Romo teamed with Patrick Crayton, who had six catches for 135 yards, on the longest completion of the Pro Bowl quarterback's career - 80 yards - for a fourth-quarter TD that thwarted any realistic hopes for a Tampa Bay comeback.
Byron Leftwich completed 25 of 41 passes for 276 yards and no interceptions, but took a beating from a relentless pass rush once Romo put the Cowboys in control. Cadillac Williams and Derrick Ward each scored on 1-yard runs for the Bucs, who rushed for 174 yards but eventually had to abandon the running game.
Cadillac Williams, back after having surgery twice in 15 months, finished with 97 yards on 13 carries. Ward was the catalyst on a long second-half drive that briefly put the Bucs back in the game.
Both teams are coming off seasons that ended with December collapses that cost them playoffs berths. The Cowboys lost three of four down the stretch to finish 9-7, and the Bucs lost four straight after a 9-3 start and fired coach Jon Gruden, replacing him with Morris.
Dallas' biggest offseason move was getting rid of Owens and making Roy Williams the lead receiver, a role he's excited about after spending the first 5 1/2 years of his career in Detroit and struggling in Owens' shadow after being obtained from the Lions at the trade deadline last season.
Romo completed his first two passes to the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Williams, but the duo remained relatively quiet until the receiver's big third-quarter catch put the Cowboys up 20-7.
Williams went in motion on the play, turned upfield and ran past safety Sabby Piscitelli and made the catch splitting two defenders. Cornerback Ronde Barber dived and got a hand on Williams, but couldn't make the tackle.
Leftwich wasn't sacked at all by a defense led by DeMarcus Ware, however he did take several hard shots in the fourth quarter. The seventh-year pro led an 11-play, 84-yard drive that Ward capped with his TD that trimmed Tampa Bay's deficit to 20-14 with 13:45 remaining in the game.
Two plays later, Romo picked up a blitz and found Crayton wide open on the right sideline and the receiver easily outran Piscitelli and Jermaine Phillips to restore the Cowboys' 13-point lead.
Marion Barber's 6-yard TD run finished Dallas' scoring. The Bucs marched 74 yards in the closing minutes to score on Leftwich's 2-yard pass to Kellen Winslow.
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